Gender Studies for Lemurs

DISCLAIMER: Research into gender dynamics has revealed that, in most species, the male is the socially dominant gender. However, in a handful of instances, females produce a greater amount of testosterone and are therefore more aggressive and more likely to take risks—leading to deference from their male counterparts. One such example is lemurs.

The following is an open letter to all my fellow male lemurs:

I’m fed up.

It’s 2020, and male lemurs are still treated like second-class citizens.

We can’t nibble on a piece of fruit without an entitled female sauntering up and snatching it away from us. When we’ve found a prime spot to sleep or sunbathe, the wicked female thinks nothing of kicking us out. And show me one male lemur who hasn’t had to deal with an unruly female scratching and biting because they’re incapable of expressing their anger in a healthy manner.

Open your eyes.

Us male lemurs were raised to be receptive to other’s feelings. To provide emotional and physical support to our female counterparts. And what have we gotten for it but exploitation?

Think about it.

There’s not one male leader of a lemur troop in all of Madagascar. Every good tree is marked by a female scent. And male lemurs have to stand idly by while female lemurs get the first pick of all the good fruit.

And don’t even get me started about the sex.

When mating season comes, us males are set up to make a mockery of ourselves competing for a female’s attention. We spray our tails with secretions and wave them, but half the time the female doesn’t even notice. Instead, she’s looking at another male waving his smelly tail. And even if the female agrees to mate with you, you never know if she’s talking to another lemur on the side.

These dangerous sexual politics can put male lemurs in harm’s way. I’ve been in situations where another male comes while I’m mating with a female and tosses me aside. Even worse, some female lemurs—I’m not going to say who—have been known to coerce males into mating while they’re in estrus (which, by the way, only lasts 24-48 hours).

Every male lemur has a story like this, and they’re all equally horrifying.

That’s why it’s time for change.

In every species, there is a dominant group suppressing another group into subjugation. But we can be better. We’re already very intelligent creatures. We exhibit a variety of different personality traits, and can communicate with each other through laughs, cries, growls, barks, and meows. I say it’s time we craft a new message and send it directly to our female counterparts: Your time is up.

The status quo has favored female lemurs for far too long. By treating them as the dominant matriline, we continue to perpetrate harmful stereotypes that cause physical and emotional anguish for male lemurs and negatively impact our society as a whole.

Therefore, today I’m asking you to join me in the Lemur Equilibrium Movement. Our goal is to make Madagascar a more equitable place for all lemurs through un-scenting ceremonies of local trees, a fruit-sharing co-op, gender bias training, and the general promotion of male lemur viewpoints and ideas in society.

Lemur sexism starts and ends with us. You owe it to yourself to be part of the solution.

Please share this message with the hashtag #Equilemurbrium.

Thank you.

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